Natick, Mass. -- Celebration was in in the air Friday, June 14, as Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, and local veterans gathered at Natick Solider Systems Center (NSSC) to recognize the 244th birthday of the U.S. Army.

"Today, we celebrate the birthday of our United States Army," said Brig. Gen Vincent Malone, senior commander, Natick Solider Systems Center (NSSC). "It was on June 14, 1775, that the Second Continental Congress established an Army to fight the American Revolution, which makes our Army more than a year older than the nation it serves."

As part of a long-standing Army tradition, the oldest and youngest Soldiers, Lt. Col. Michael Boye, of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, and PV2 Toni Spencer, a Human Research Volunteer assigned the Human Research Development Detachment, were on hand to cut the cake. The cake is traditionally cut with a sword, so to recognize those who served proudly during the Battle of Normandy on D-Day, a World War II era officer's sword was used to do the honors.

During his address, Malone, who is also the deputy commanding general of Combat Capabilities Development Command, took time to honor the sacrifice of these brave men of the past, as well as discuss the Army of today and tomorrow.

"A week ago we commemorated D-Day, during which the United States Army played a significant role, just as we have played a significant role in all our armed conflicts," said Malone. "The Army is the world's most lethal ground combat force in history. We stand ready today to deploy, fight, and win our nation's war. We continue to evolve and change to defeat our enemies and to preserve freedom for all Americans."

"We are the guardians of our freedom -- beacons of hope and liberty; and while we never asked to be called anything other than "Soldier" or "civilian," some may consider us heroes," said Malone. "Today and always, we celebrate our total Army."

The Army birthday celebration began as Natick Soldiers and civilians took to the streets for an early morning formation run through NSSC.

The birthday celebration at Natick was just one of many during a week of festivities at Army installations worldwide.